Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Red Meat = Stroke

Did my title catch your attention? Stroke or "Brain Attack" is the number three killer in the United States, affecting almost 800,000 people each year, according to the National Stroke Association.

A colleague of mine recently asked me a question: "Of all the ailments known today, which one are you the most afraid of getting and living through it?" My mind raced through the list: Heart attack, cancer, diabetes... but the one you really should be afraid of is a stroke.

Think about it. If you have a heart attack, you can get bypass surgery or a stint inserted and live a pretty normal life. Cancer is treated with chemotherapy and radiation - not a pleasant process - but you can come out of it fully functional. Diabetes can be controlled with insulin and sometimes eliminated completely with diet and exercise.

With a stroke, you could find yourself paralyzed on one side of your body if you live through it. And that paralysis is usually permanent. Your life and the life of your loved ones would change in an instant.

So what causes strokes? I just read an interesting article on the subject. There are many things that increase your chances of having a stroke, one being a high-fat diet. Eating a lot of red meat and fried food can raise your risk of brain attack. Blacks have twice the incidence of strokes as whites, according to the AHA. Being female can also put you at a disadvantage when it comes to stroke. Women aged 35 to 64 are almost three times as likely to have a stroke as men of the same age.

Are you overweight? Were you born in the South? Do you smoke? Are you unhappily married or unmarried? Beware the silent killer: Stroke.